Former deputy finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has been roundly accused by Ajay Gupta of deliberately lying about meeting with him – “either by his own devising or by the devising of others” – in a bid to falsely implicate him in the ongoing #statecapture investigation..
“I made no offer of a ministerial post as described by him. I did not make any offer to him to pay him either R600,000 cash or offer to pay him R600m in an account of his choice. I did not have any knowledge of any upcoming Cabinet reshuffling and or about ministers that may be fired and I did not have any influence over the appointment of any members of the National Executive, nor did I ever have such influence.”
Ajay also said he can prove he was at Oakbay’s Sandton office’s when this allegedly corrupt meeting took place.
This outright denial is contained in an affidavit filed at the Zondo Commission into alleged state capture, where Jonas had testified on August 24 that he was offered the bribes at a meeting at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.
The Gupta patriarch also accused former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of using a “leading question” to establish that he was the person that Jonas says he met with on October 23, 2015 – and who Jonas has accused of trying to bribe and threaten him.
During his testimony to the inquiry, Jonas admitted that at the time of the 2015 meeting he did not know which Gupta brother he was meeting with as the man “did not introduce himself” – but that he did recognise him as one of the Gupta brothers based on media reports.
Jonas testified, he looked at published pictures of the brothers and said he was “relatively certain” that the Gupta at the meeting was Ajay. However, he said he could not “exclude the possibility” that it was Rajesh Gupta he had met with.
In his affidavit, however, Ajay is adamant that he was not the one at that meeting.
“I had no meeting with Mr Jonas either on 23 October 2015 or on any other day,” Ajay states.
He continued: “I therefore had no discussions with him as claimed by him, made no offers of any nature to him to pay money to him should he be prepared to agree to become the minister of finance, or that I tell the President [Jacob Zuma] what to do and that I control everything, nor did I make any threats to kill him.
“His version of the events of the meeting he had with [controversial Arms Deal advisor] Fana Hlongwane and Duduzane Zuma is nothing but an intentional fabrication to implicate me in alleged wrongdoing in which I played no part, as I was not present and never met Mr Jonas.”
He added: “I point out that it is highly unlikely that the meeting took place, because if it did in the manner alleged by Mr Jonas, he would immediately have reported it to the nearest police station as he as any other ordinary citizen was legally obliged and duty bound under the law, to do”.
In his affidavit, which was filed on September 2, Ajay says his cell phone records show he was at the Oakbay offices when Jonas allegedly met with him. He further claims his presence at the office was witnessed by several staff members, including former Oakbay acting CEO Ronica Ragavan.
“I also tendered my cell phone records to the Public Protector when she afforded me a very superficial interview opportunity during 4 October 2016, when I gave evidence of my version of the allegations leveled by Mr Jonas against me specifically, to objectively confirm my alibi on that specific afternoon.
“It needs to be reiterated that this interview with the Public Protector was initiated by myself and at my specific request as I asked to give a response to the false claims as reported in the media.
“It was also plain and indisputable that my identity was introduced to Mr Jonas by way of a leading question suggested to him and/or photos of me being shown to him, to enable him to conclude that he in fact met with me specifically and not with anyone else, where after he accepted and claimed that he in fact did have a meeting with me.”
Ajay has also criticised Jonas for claiming, for the first time in the inquiry, that he had threatened to kill him.
Gupta, who was denied leave to cross-examine Jonas earlier because he refused to return to South Africa to appear before the commission, accuses Jonas of “painting a false picture” of him.